We may know it as downsizing, but this expert prefers to call in rightsizing

    Moving to a smaller place because you don’t want all that space can be economically necessary, emotionally challenging and logistically nightmarish in equal measure.

    But like death and taxes, it’s almost one of life’s necessities these days – and the statistics back this up. The most recent Australian census of Population and Housing 2011 and 2016 shows older couples aged over 65 and older lone households grew by 17% and 14%, respectively.  

    Downsizing just doesn’t have the right feeling of excitement associated with it!  That’s why I like to call it Rightsizing. Downsizing really means to make something smaller, Rightsizing is to make it a more appropriate size.

    Rightsizing is one of the biggest challenges faced by Empty Nesters and an ageing population, as they’re forced to decide when is the right time to make a move from the family home and, even more daunting, just how to go about it.  

    Many Empty Nesters are so perplexed and overwhelmed by where to start, that they do nothing. They then find themselves in the same position many years later.  Many are also sick and tired of maintaining the family home, but feel a sense of guilt or loss of control about letting it go.  

    So what are the challenges faced by downsizers?  One thing is certain: one size doesn’t fit all in all cases, as there are so many different circumstances.  So here are some insights in three steps.  

    Step 1: Create your property wish list

    Going out and finding your next place can be a daunting thought – but if you think about what you want in your next property, then things will start to happen for you. It will also help motivate your next steps towards getting ready for the move.  

    A property wish list is critical to commence the process to give you clarity on the situation and firm up thoughts and steps to get you there.  Items that should be on the list:

    • Budget
    • Preferred suburbs
    • Property type
    • Number of bedrooms & bathrooms
    • Car spaces / caravan space
    • Condition
    • Style
    • Close to children – or further away!
    • Most important criterias (walk/transport/level/storage etc)

    Step 2: The declutter & how much do I love you?

    If you’ve got a bit more to do than an afternoon’s work to successfully declutter, then schedule a few hours each week to doing it and allow a few months to get it done so it won’t make you feel exhausted or overwhelmed.

    This activity should be looked upon as a part-time job, with reward and recognition. Perhaps call a friend and have a schedule locked in, such as six hours or two shifts a week. You may have a decluttering and organising partner who needs assistance in their own home too, so it could be a mutually beneficial agreement.

    How much do I love you?  During your decluttering stints, go around your home, room by room and ask this question of all of the items before they can move with you to your new home. If you know you don’t really love something and someone else can better use it, donate or recycle it!  I go into depth more on this ‘how to’ in my book, but essentially, if you need to love an item deeply to keep it.  

    Your new home will be smaller and you should be surrounded by your most important things (the things you love the most), so it’s important to allocate your time to this activity and to carefully process all of your items during your allocated times. Allow as many ‘shifts’ as you need and be realistic about the amount of time it will take.

    It’s important to note that you don’t need to know the floor plan or where you will be living for your new home, but you will know roughly how many rooms you want, so you can sketch a likely plan, and put your remaining items into that.  

    Step 3: Presenting your home in its best light for success

    Much of my book and workshops cover this important aspect.  Why? To make you as much money as possible for you to enjoy the next chapter of your life.  Always start with a walk-through maintenance and presentation focus.

    Maintenance is different to presentation.  You already know the maintenance requirements of your home, but a specialist will list the presentation requirements of your home. Knowing the ins and outs of your target market of buyers is quite a skill and takes time to find out.  I always complete the walk-through as a ‘first time’ viewer of the property, walking through in the way that a potential purchaser or tenant.  So what are you looking for?  As a minimum you’ll want to see that:

    • The property must appear well maintained and easy to manage from the street, to draw people in. It will promote the thought of having minimal hassle and be clean, clear of stuff and ready to move in.
    • The property’s best selling points need to be presented in the way your market wants to see them. Know your target market and understand their needs and wants so you can attract as many as possible to promote competition
    • Ensure a feeling of light, space and versatility throughout the property
    • Hire furniture and decorative items for the sale or buy them for your next place and use  for staging

    Top 7 preparation tips

    1. Paint
    2. Steam clean carpets
    3. Clean windows
    4. Full deep clean all over inside (they will check inside your cupboards!)
    5. House wash
    6. Pressure clean hard surfaces outside
    7. Weed and feed, edge mow and clear garden of leaves, weeds, dead plants and tree debris.

    ______________________________________________________________________  Belinda Woolrych is the author of ‘Rightsize Your Home, The Empty Nesters Guide to a Stress Free Downsize’.  Order or download it at: http://rightsizeyourhome.com.au. Belinda also runs a downsizing and decluttering business. For more on downsizing, go to: www.downsizingconnections.com.au.

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